Cotton

Ingraham defends his govt’s handling of Cotton Bay development – Eye Witness News

Former PM insists his admin had always sought to improve economy of South Eleuthera; says he “takes exception” to Sir Franklyn’s allegations

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham has fired back against claims by Sunshine Holdings Chairman Sir Franklyn Wilson that “bad public policy” by his administration in the late 1990s resulted in the Cotton Bay development in South Eleuthera not being able to proceed. 

The Davis administration on Monday signed an amended heads of agreement with Cotton Bay Holdings for the development of a $200 million Ritz-Carlton resort, which is expected to create 300 construction jobs and 200 permanent jobs once completed.

Wilson, chairman of the Jack’s Bay resort community — another Eleuthera development, in an interview with a local daily, claimed that the Cotton Bay development owners were ready to go but “bad public policy and governance had [derailed] the development in 1996 and 1997 and triggered the recession Eleuthera has not come out of”.

Ingraham, in a statement, however, defended his administration’s handling of the project. 

I was surprised, therefore, to read, and I take exception to, reports that Sir Franklyn Wilson spewed misguided accusations that my government’s ‘bad public policy’ in the late 1990s was largely to blame for lack of action on this project.

– Former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham

The former prime minister said he was pleased about the signing of a third heads of agreement between the government and Cotton Bay Holdings and its principal owner, Dr Luis Carlos Sarmiento Angulo. 

“I was pleased 25 years ago in 1996, as head of the government, to have caused to be approved and signed the first heads of agreement between the government and Dr Carlos Sarmiento, a frequent visitor and subsequently second homeowner in Eleuthera,” said Ingraham.

He said Sarmiento subsequently commenced plans to redevelop the old Cotton Bay resort and golf club, which have “disappointedly not moved forward during the past 25 [years] not due to any action on the part of FNM (Free National Movement) governments”.

Sir Franklyn Wilson.

“I was surprised, therefore, to read, and I take exception to, reports that Sir Franklyn Wilson spewed misguided accusations that my government’s ‘bad public policy’ in the late 1990s was largely to blame for lack of action on this project,” Ingraham said.

“I have long expressed frustration with slow progress in invigorating the South Eleuthera economy, which was a goal of every government led by me.”

He added: “Contrary to Mr Wilson’s allegations, FNM governments have consistently acted to marry their interests in providing increased economic and employment opportunities, and hence better living conditions for ordinary Bahamians, with those of attracting desirable investors to our country.” 

With regards to South Eleuthera, Ingraham said his government, in an effort to facilitate Sarmiento’s redevelopment plan for the Cotton Bay property, acquired and redeveloped the Rock Sound Airport, “much to the chagrin of its owners from the Franklyn Wilson Group”.

“Thereafter, a new airport terminal was constructed and we put in place plans to expand and increase electricity and water supplies to accommodate the development and to provide services to residents of South Eleuthera,” Ingraham said.

“In office, the FNM always sought to protect the interests of all — public and private.

“Where conflict between the two arose, we always came down on the side of public interests as opposed to personal private interest.

“So, we did not approve Cotton Bay Holdings Ltd’s application to buy substantial additional land from the Franklyn Wilson Group prior to the commencement of development on the large acreage already owned by the company for the expressed purpose of touristic and upscale residential development.”

Ingraham said his government at the time was satisfied that additional land was not required for the size of the development proposed.

From the point of view of Sir Franklyn, this may be called bad public policy. From my point of view, it is the exact opposite.

– Former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham

He further noted that his government did not agree that foreign entities or people should be approved by the government to purchase large tracts of vacant land without specific, approved development plans.  

“At all times, Dr Sarmiento…was fully aware and accepted that the government that I led would not approve further purchases of large acreage of land in South Eleuthera by him until and unless he progressed the agreed development,” Ingraham said. 

“From the point of view of Sir Franklyn, this may be called bad public policy.

“From my point of view, it is the exact opposite.

Yesterdays’ HOA signing between the Davis administration and Cotton Bay Holdings Ltd. (BIS/KEMUEL STUBBS)

“Those who celebrate the [signing] of yesterday’s agreement may wish to consider that Dr Sarmiento has always come to the table to negotiate his agreements for development in The Bahamas with FNM administrations.

“It suggests that Dr Sarmiento is satisfied that FNM administrations would deal with him fairly and transparently and it is instructive that the proposed development did not proceed under either of the last two PLP (Progressive Liberal Party) administrations.”

The former prime minister noted that the outcomes of general elections in 2012 and 2021 resulted in two of the Sarmiento Groups’ agreements, approved by FNM governments, being signed by PLP administrations — the Four Seasons being brought to South Eleuthera in 2015 and infrastructure developments that he claimed did not progress under the Christie administration.

Nonetheless, he said: “I wish the development great success and look forward to its beneficial impact on the people and economy of South Eleuthera.”


Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button